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4,300 junior water rights holders told to stop diverting

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Safeeq Khan, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist, checks the water level in a stream. Severe drought has prompted California regulators to curtail diversions by junior water rights holders.
Regulators say they're likely to broaden the directive before the end of summer.

About 4,300 junior water irghts holders in California have been told to stop diverting water because there isn't enough to go around, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The State Water Resources Control Board on June 15 issued the directive, which will affect growers and others from Fresno County to the Oregon state line.

Regulators told the Chronicle that they're likely to broaden the directive before the end of summer as drought conditions continue to worsen.

“This really emphasizes the seriousness of the circumstances we find ourselves in during this drought,” water board chairman Joaquin Esquivel told the newspaper. “It’s about responding to the drought itself and the curtailment (of water) that Mother Nature is imposing upon us.”

Among the areas hit with curtailment notices were the Russian River watershed north of San Francisco and the Scott River watershed in Siskiyou County, noted the California Cattlemen's Association.

Along the Russian River, curtailments of pre-1914 water rights could be imposed if Lake Mendocino’s water volume falls below 29,315 acre-feet before July 1, the CCA explained in a legislative bulletin. As of June 4, only 34,618 acre-feet of water were present in the lake.

CCA submitted comments recently urging the SWRCB not to broadly designate valid water uses as “waste and unreasonable use,” and to instead administer curtailments according to California’s water rights priority system, according to the newsletter.

The organization is also seeking relief from what it calls an unnecessary requirement that water rights holders certify their compliance with curtailment orders.

TAGS: Regulatory
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